Lhasa is the capital of Tibet, located on the world’s highest plateau – Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is destined to be in a class by itself, just like its eye-catching altitude. Therefore, there are snow-covered mountains, interlaced canyons, enchanting alpine lakes, and vastly alpine meadows with scattering yaks and so on, which are worthy of exploration.
As the spiritual heart of Tibet, Lhasa is full of religious faith so that pilgrims are willing to spend a lifetime pursuing here. Besides, Lhasa is also the cultural center in Tibet, appealing to a large number of tourists every year. Here, you can sit by the foot of Potala Palace swaying the prayer wheel and chanting, wandering along the Barkhor Street to experience a circuit, sipping Tibetan sweet tea to feel its lingering aftertaste…Whether or not you are too impatient to wait, today, we will lift the veil of top 8 Tibetan experiences in Lhasa together!
Barkhor Street deserves to be the most bustling street in the world. When the morning’s first ray of sunshine awakens the street, the flow of pilgrims has already packed with it, after the night is lit with stars, a vast crowd still gather there. Among the activities of Barkhor Street, the Barkhor Circuit is the most anticipated part, certainly, it cannot be absolutely missed.
The Barkhor Street in Tibetan means walking around the holy Jokhang Temple, which is called Barkhor Circuit. When walking along the one-kilometer polygonal Barkhor Street at dusk, you will find the street is filled with those who wear Tibetan costumes with the little prayer wheel, prostrate themselves. It is such a devout pilgrimage that makes you take a shine to, and can’t help joining in the flow of pilgrims.
In fact, the pilgrims generally trudge from further places, including the elderly, the young, and the pregnant. In their mind, the circuit is a road to paradise which attracts lots of people to use their body length to measure this holy street, just as you can hear the sound of Buddha by this prostration. Standing here watching the pilgrims, even though not a pilgrim, you are also willing to do the Barkhor Circuit, and believe the Buddha will take you under his wing. So this is the religious power.
Enjoy Sweet Tea in Local Tea House
After finishing the circuit, you can set foot in a local Tibetan sweet tea house to take a sip and have a rest. You must want to know why the sweet tea is more popular than butter tea? Although butter tea is the main drink for Tibetan at this high altitude, if you are used to drinking the exquisite beverage, it is difficult to swallow the simple drink. So the taste of sweet tea is more suitable for tourists.
In addition, sweet tea plays an essential role in the Tibetan daily life, just like the British afternoon tea. And drinking a cup of sweet tea in a Tibetan tea house of Barkhor Street is equal to drinking coffee at Champs Elysee, it is also why you must have a try. Entering the sweet tea house at Barkhor Street, you will see that all kinds of people sit on the bench, whether little children or the aged, both chat with each other, happily and leisurely. Just surrounded by the rich Tibetan atmosphere, you will have a strong satisfaction, Therefore, if you want to learn more about the local lifestyle, culture, the tea house is the best place where you must visit.
Here, not only can you drink the authentic sweet tea, but also taste the most traditional cuisines, including tsampa, Tibetan yak meat, Tibetan noddle. Or you can try and drink a cup of Chang (a kind of Tibetan liquor), which may help you release fatigue. Then, chatting with others or watching the people coming and going is also relaxing.
Tour the Tromzikhang Market
Now that doing a circuit along the Barkhor Street, sipping sweet tea, you must hang out in the Tromzikhang Market which is located at the busiest place in Lhasa. It is the largest small-commodity market. Also, people who live here must go shopping every day. There is absolutely full of various dazzling goods, including butter tea, tsampa, milk dregs, air-dried yak meat, vastly local agricultural products and so on.
Besides, you will find many Nepalese and Indian goods owing to the close location and similar religion, such as Indian spice, trinkets, and cosmetics and the like. If you think there are just those subjects, think again! This market also has many Tibetan handicrafts, you can buy some as souvenirs.
Certainly, as you know, Tibet is well-known for the dzi bead, turquoise, beeswax, and red coral, if you are keen on them, it is the best place for you to tour. Tromzikhang Market will offer you a chance to learn about Tibetan in all aspects.
Explore Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace
It is said that the Potala Palace is the landmark and cultural center of Lhasa, Jokhang Temple is the Buddhist holy temple. It goes without saying that these two sites must be visited. Jokhang Temple is located at Barkhor Street, also the destination for pilgrims. It occupies the paramount position in Tibetan Buddhism, so Jokhang Monastery appeals to lots of pilgrims and tourists from the four corners. More than ten thousand butter lamps which burn day and night witness the devout pilgrimage year in and year out.
After visiting Jokhang Monastery, you can walk to Potala Palace. It is the highest magnificent building integrating palaces, castles and temples in the world, also Tibet’s largest and most complete ancient palace building complex. The Potala Palace is built on Red Hill ramparts, with overlapping buildings and magnificent temples, which is an outstanding representative of ancient Tibetan architecture. Wandering inside, you seem to talk to the people live here in the past, to forget the annoyance. Exploring from Red Palace to White Palace, you will exclaim its glory. Maybe when coming here, you can realize how exquisite Tibetan architecture is! They perfectly display the Tibetan Buddhist charm and the devoutness of Tibetan.
Watch the Monk Debate in Sera Monastery
As one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, in addition to sightseeing in Sera Monastery, the highlight is to watch the monk debate. This is a challenging debate, also the method of study. The debaters often use various gestures to increase the intensity of the debate. One asks, another answer the questions as quickly as possible. The enthusiastic atmosphere on the debate has also made visitors deeply inspired.
Although it is quite difficult for people to know what they said Because of language barriers and the noisy voice, when you bask in the strong curious atmosphere, nobody will really care the meaning. If you want to appreciate the monk debate, entering the monastery at 3 pm, then find a nice place, prepare the camera in order to record the excellent moment.
Hang out in Langma Hall at Night
There are several Langma Halls in Lhasa. Every night, people sing and dance to extol the good times. I recommend the Lhasa Langma Opera House. The singer has a professional singing skill. The introduction of Tibetan costumes is also very detailed. You will appreciate a Tibetan song and dance costume show, so it is almost full of people at night.
Drinking beer, listening to music, tripping the light fantastic, chatting with Tibetans, all will make you be on the top of the world. During the performance, you can take part in the elegant and beautiful Tibetan dance. The Langma Hall in Lhasa usually starts from 10:30 pm and continues until 3 am. Everyone toast to each other and chat with the joy, each table is filled with beer. You will be immediately familiar with others.
Experience the Scenic Ganden Kora
Ganden Monastery is the most special monastery among the great six Gelug university monasteries because it was built in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelug Sect. The monastery is located at the top of Wangbur Mountain. When you view the whole buildings of Ganden Monastery, you will be surprised that Ganden Monastery is just magnifying Potala Palace, the scattered buildings constitute the mighty Ganden Monastery.
The Kora route around the monstery will offer you the impressive scenery of the valley, especially standing on the mountain behind the monastery, you can overview Lhasa River. Normally, the narrow route is packed with pilgrims, sometimes, you may encounter the herdmen and their yaks, it is quite interesting. If paying a visit during Ganden Thangka Unveiling Festival, you can have the chance to appreciate the delicate Thangka.
Besides enjoying kora, the scenery on the way is completely worth recording with your camera. If you are enthusiastic about photography, the tour to Ganden Monastery will give you many wonderful pictures of nature and culture. And you will see lots of trekkers, for the trek to Samye from Ganden is quite famous in the world, if time permits, you can also experience.
Make a Detour to Visit Yamdrok Lake and Namtso Lake
So long as you arrive in Lhasa if time is sufficient, we highly recommend you go to appreciate two holy lakes in Tibet – Yamdrok Lake and Namtso Lake. Yamdrok Lake is famous for its various blue color from different angles on different days, while Namtso Lake is well-known for the limpidity, and the highest lake in the world.
When you cross the Gangbala Pass, the turquoise Yamdrok Lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains will come into your eyes. Here, not only can you take the excellent photos of the lake, but also the pictures with Tibetan Mastiff, or experience riding yaks. In fact, just wandering along the lakes to explore also will make you comfortable.
If you have enough time, visiting the further Namtso is a more impressive experience. There are lots of small islands and caves, you can explore by yourself. At dust, the rosy sunset is reflected on the lake, the water turns red, what a miraculous picture. At night, if the weather is wonderful, you can lie down nearby the lakeside to appreciate twinkling stars and the Milky Way. In the early morning, you can also enjoy a romantic sunrise.